One of the last wines we tasted at the Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival earlier this year was the Estate Zinfandel from Westberg Cellars. Admittedly, I was unfamiliar with this winery, but their Zin tasted darn good. But, it was near the end of the tasting and at that point everything was tasting pretty good. So, I made a note to myself to try to visit this winery next time we visited Paso.
We had that opportunity soon enough, and not too much later we found ourselves driving up Willow Creek Road on Paso Robles’ West Side. And I do mean driving “up” as we found ourselves driving up a hill into an area I had not before visited.
Often, when visiting wineries that are off the beaten path, we might be the only visitors they have seen that day. But not this time. As we approached the winery’s tasting room, we noticed a fairly large crowd, including a limo. And, when that limo left, another one showed up quickly. Clearly, we had been missing something.
Tom and Peggy Westberg purchased the property in 1983 and planted Zinfandel, Sangiovese, and Merlot in 1991. Eventually the Sangiovese was removed, and more Zinfandel was planted, along with Petite Sirah and Grenache. In 2008, their nephew Don Burns joined the operation and is heavily involved in the winemaking. He definitely has the background, having several years of experience in fine dining and wine sales, as well as growing up with and being best friends with Justin Smith of Saxum Winery next door. Don explained to us that Westberg actually produces wines under two labels: Westberg for white wines and Zinfandels, and Turtle Rock for Rhone and Spanish varietals.
During our visit, and in between limo loads, Don poured for us the following:
Westberg Willow White 2010 [Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling]
Westberg Estate Zinfandel 2010
Turtle Rock “Willow’s Cuvee” 2008 [Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre]
Turtle Rock “S &M” 2008 [Syrah and Mourvedre]
These wines were right up my alley. I found the white exceptionally refreshing and the Zinfandel confirmed my opinion of it when I tasted it at the Paso Zinfest. Well worth the long winding road to the tasting room. And, maybe someday I’ll get to meet Don’s buddy Justin.
Michael Perlis provides outsourced controller services to businesses that do not need a full-time controller. He balances this with his interest in wine: reading and writing about it and, of course, drinking it. He is still trying to figure out how to combine these two pursuits. Feel free to contact him about either at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.